Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Let's Be Honest About Cameras

To really no one's surprise, there continue to be shootings in Toronto's club district. Combine that with the fact that 90% of these places play shit music and it's really not a great neighbourhood.

What the cops want to do is expand their surveillance camera project to the club district in hopes of stopping this kind of violence. According to the Star article,
"Police Staff Sgt. John Boyce did not want to comment on whether he thinks the cameras are a good idea but said they might help as a deterrent."
Really? Elsewhere in the article it says that there 55 000 people in the area on a Saturday night. Anyone willing to discharge a firearm amid such great cloud of witnesses is surely not camera shy. Cameras don't do much other than give off a vague air of big brother, a slight menace. A menace, incidentally, that did not deter the young men pictured above. Remember all the great photos that London's cameras got of the 7/7 bombers? Fat lot of good that did.

Someone firing a weapon either in the heat of the moment is unlikely to be deterred, and any kind of premeditated score-settling between gangs might, at best, simply be moved to a quieter part of town (yet still not devoid of bystanders).

So why are both neighbourhood groups and cops favouring cameras? My suspicion is that they want them to deal with nuisance crimes downtown. Soliciting prostitution on the streets, drug deals, that kind of low-level crime is what both cops and residents would probably want to scare away. The shootings are a sort of hook to get people emotionally supportive of cameras ("there are shootings in the streets, something must be done!") while I suspect the cops want to keep an eye on more venal things.